Go Strapless This Summer Thanks to Our Upper Body Moves


Whether you want to slim down or build muscle, you need to perform upper body exercises as part of your fitness regimen. These exercises are often neglected in favour of ab-toning or bum-firming moves, but upper arm workouts can improve your posture, and help you look better in strapless outfits. With that in mind, we spoke to wellness expert Danielle Restuccia for her favourite shoulder and arm exercises.


1. Lateral Raise: According to Restuccia, ‘This arm exercise, which works your lateral deltoids, is pretty simple: hold a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang by your sides. Slowly raise your arms to each side, keeping your elbows straightened, until your arms are at shoulder height. Lower and repeat. Do not raise your shoulders as you lift your arms. Start with light weight but not too light that the exercise is too easy. Remember to challenge your muscles and always increase weight as weeks pass by.’


2. Overhead Shoulder Press: ‘Holding on to your dumbbells, try this upper body workout,’ Restuccia suggests. ‘Hold your arms to your sides, elbows bent at right angles so that your wrists are above your elbows. Slowly press the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended. Hold and lower slowly. To add a bicep component to this move, start with your arms down in front of you, palms facing forward. Curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders, then move into the overhead press by rotating your arms as you press the weights upward.’


3. Bodyweight Dips: Restuccia notes, ‘Whether you’re looking to shed some excess jiggle from your triceps or add a little bit of muscle to a skinny upper arm, bodyweight dips are a great arm exercise. You can use a machine, but using just a bench forces you to maintain your balance, engaging your core muscles too. Start by sitting on the bench, palms down and fingers wrapped over the front edge of the bench. With your legs extended in front of you and knees just slightly bent, slide forward off the bench so that you’re supporting yourself with your arms. Slowly dip down until your elbows reach 90 degrees, then push back up. Remember to tighten your abs and glutes as you go, and keep good posture: don’t roll your shoulders forward.’


4. Reverse Plank Pull-Up: ‘The reverse plank pull-up targets not only your biceps but your shoulders and deltoids, too, and only requires a sturdy bar,’ says Restuccia. ‘You can use a Smith machine at the gym, but even a bar at the playground would work! Stand under the bar and hold it with your hands, palms up. Then walk forward until you’re fully extended in a reverse plank: your body should make a straight line. Slowly bend your elbows to pull yourself up and toward the bar, and then lower yourself, maintaining control.’


5. Wrist Curls: ‘One of the simplest arm exercises is the wrist curl,’ Restuccia comments. ‘With a small dumbbell of three to five pounds, stabilise your forearm on your thigh or a desk. Allow the weight to roll to the ends of your fingers, then curl it forward and upward as far as you can. To reverse this, hold the dumbbells out in front of you, palms facing down. Curl your wrist upward so that you’re working the top of your forearm.’


6. Hammer Curls: Restuccia details, ‘This move will tone both your biceps and forearms. Using dumbbells or a bar, start with your arms in front of you, palms facing inward. Slowly raise the weight outward, keeping your elbows tucked in to your body, until your wrists reach shoulder height. Lower and repeat.’


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